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Delays Strike BT Retails UK ISP OnLive Broadband Video Game Streaming Service

Posted: 21st Apr, 2011 By: MarkJ
onlive uk btbtPlans by ISP BT Retail to launch a UK version of the USA based OnLive service, which allows you to play the latest PC, PS3 and XBox 360 games, without even having to own them, via a live and remotely controlled video stream that is delivered over your broadband internet connection, appear to have been delayed.

BT originally announced its commercial partnership with OnLive almost a year ago (here), which included the exclusive rights to bundle OnLive's gaming service with its broadband packages in the UK. BT, in conjunction with that commercial partnership, also took out a 2.6% shareholding in the business.

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, said last year:

"Entertainment is going to be at the heart of what we offer customers in the future. The partnership with OnLive complements our existing BT Vision service. It’s great for our customers - they’ll have access to a huge catalogue of games, available instantly on their TV or PC without expensive hardware. And it’s great for BT - it will enhance our premium broadband position and we’ll be entering into a market that’s worth more than £2billion."

At the time we were told that BT would announce further details about its own UK launch plans later in the year (2010), though this never materialised. Since then some people have raised concerns about the ability of the country's existing broadband infrastructure to cope, not to mention the huge strain that could be placed upon ISPs.

OnLive customers supposedly needed an internet connection speed of 1.5Mbps for Standard Definition (SD) quality gaming, though such a low quality wouldn't be well suited to the eyes of gamers that have since become accustomed to High Definition (HD) gaming. By contrast the HD service required a stable 5Mbps; according to Ofcom the UK average download speed is now a more respectable 6.2Mbps.

onlive bt broadband game service

Suffice to say that, provided BT can make the economics work, then OnLive should now be more feasible than it was one year ago (latency problems not withstanding). The ever increasing rollout of faster next generation broadband solutions, such as BT's own 40Mbps FTTC technology, could also help to make OnLive more viable.

Unfortunately our attempts to find out what has happened to the service have resulted in precious little new information from BT, which was either unwilling or unable to divulge any details, even after a month of repeated prodding. However, we did receive the following, albeit somewhat tiny, morsel of new information.

A BT Spokeswoman told ISPreview.co.uk:

"We continue to work with OnLive to finalise our plans and hope to be able to provide more info soon."

We requested further clarification about the reason for BT's delay but, after another month of waiting, no reply has been forthcoming. Our attempts to contact OnLive directly have also been met by protracted silence.

Meanwhile uptake of OnLive in the USA, which has only just got off the ground, is said to have been stronger than expected; though no customer numbers have been released. OnLive has also signed a multi-million pound deal with Smartphone manufacturer HTC. Targeting mobile phones with the ability to play high quality consoles games seems like a clever use for the technology, though it'll need to use Wi-Fi as we doubt mobile operators could cope.
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